Sun, sand, campfires and fireflies. Isn’t that what summer memories are made of? Even though our family’s summer adventures tend to be simplistic and nothing extravagant, they are enjoyable and memorable for our kids.
Even though summertime tends to be filled with activities, events and vacations, there is still plenty of downtime. How do our children utilize this time? Do they make wise choices? If you take a good look at your kids and come to the conclusion that they don’t make the right choices, know that they aren’t too far gone. Bad habits can be quickly formed, but so can good habits, if you are consistent in redirecting them. It has been said that if you want to integrate a new habit in your life (prayer, Bible reading, healthy eating, etc.) then you should give yourself twenty-one days of intense discipline. How do we implement this into our children’s lives? How do we encourage our children to make wise decisions during their downtime so they do not become couch potatoes or screen addicts? One suggestion is to set aside some time to help your children develop some new habits.
1. Come up with a short list of goals for your child.
For me, my goals were as follows:
- That my children would get chores done early, before they had free play time.
- That during down time, they would want to work on a hands-on activity more so than video games.
- That reading would be an enjoyable, relaxing activity.
2. Take away the distractions that would hinder them from accomplishing these tasks.
Remove the distractions completely, cold turkey for two or three weeks and then slowly bring them back in small increments.
3. During the time that the distractions have been removed, actively guide and redirect your child towards your desired goals rather than what they are used to.
For example, when I was trying to encourage my children to want to work on more hands-on activities, I flat out said one day, “there will be no TV this week, during the day.” There was a little moaning, groaning and complaining but once they realized I wasn’t backing down they gave up the questioning and challenging. Then, when the kids were getting antsy and bored, I would gently direct them to certain activities that I thought that might enjoy. My two older sons began developing their skills on their scroll saw and my daughter gained some baking skills. Now, when they have some downtime, they aren’t always drawn to the screen but they have a skill that they can develop and work on. They’ve even all been able to make a small amount of cash to put in their pockets with their new skills selling to both family and community members!
Sometimes it might seem hopeless when we see our kids drawn in one direction but when we remember our role as the parent is to lead and guide them then it becomes easier to help them make the right choices, even if it takes some time, we can be encouraged to know that it will be worth the time and effort!